How to Make Money Online With Amazon Mechanical Turk

Updated on July 29, 2018
MatthewLeo1701 profile image

Matt Leo has been a working manager in several restaurant companies for over 20 years. He's worked every position up through management.

Screenshot of MTurk Worker Splash Page
Screenshot of MTurk Worker Splash Page | Source

How I Finally Made (Some) Money On The Internet

I stumbled upon the Amazon Mechanical Turk as most people do, via the Google search engine. I had been working for Elance, a freelancer site. About a month in, I was looking to spread my wings and see what other opportunities one could find on the interwebs. This article describes the first experiences that I had working the on the micro-job platform and will give you a basic idea of what to expect to accomplish your first few months at it.

My Top Requester Picks

If you stick with this article to the end, I will reveal my top requester picks that I felt gave me the most bang for my buck and are a great way to work on getting a lot of jobs completed to meet the higher qualification levels.

What are my top picks as Requesters?
What are my top picks as Requesters? | Source

The Time And Measure of My Success

First of all, I need to divulge that I have been test-driving mturk.com off and on for just several years. I have only met with some mild success. However, the best advice that I can give to newbies is not to put all of their eggs in this one basket. There are many different jobs that you can work yourself up to getting granted permissions to do. That said, I can tell you that in my off and on hammering away at tasks for Mechanical Turk, I have earned myself almost $200.

Workers at Amazon Mechanical Turk are affectionately referred to as "Turkers"

$200? It was more than I expected. I, like so many others, perhaps even yourself, have been left jaded by the promises of so many entrepreneurs that have preached the joys of internet wealth accumulation. You don't have to look far on Facebook or to to all down the rabbit hole link, and get pummeled by white-screen backgrounded promise-makers with speeches of untold riches and success. I listened to my fair share of sweet voiced consultants and their honeyed words.

The site is set up nicely and is well organized, so much so that any well-trained ape without opposable thumbs can run the gauntlet links with the best of them. Within the last year, it has upgraded it new storefront with larger text and more streamlined search parameters. You can set the filter only to show the micro-jobs that you have earned qualifications when comes in handy when trying to get to work right away. The screen immediately opens up to your HITS page. Well, there are three tabs across the top of your screen.

Screenshot of MTurk's Front Page
Screenshot of MTurk's Front Page | Source

How MTurk Is Organized

The first is your HITS tab, which is where you will start once you log-in. From here you can explore available HITS or search for specific ones by keyword or even a requester name. The second tab is for leads to your dashboard. This page offers you a lot of information on the HITS you have completed. It shows the breakdown of how many tasks (or HITS) you have accomplished, the numbers that are still pending review and on what days, what rewards you have earned and various other percentages that reflect how many jobs you have achieved or abandoned. To clarify, a HIT is the mini-job that you complete. Here you can also see your completion ratios and the amount of money you have earned so far. Note, there there may be a difference in the amount of money posted to what you are owed because even though hits may be approved, it may take time to release those funds to you. Each requester chooses their money release dates differently. Some may do pay-outs only once a week, while others in a matter of minutes.

Earning Qualifications in MTurk

The third tab shows you which qualifications you have earned. A specific qualification may be required for you to examine HITS within a particular job title. Gaining qualifications can be as simple as requesting to receive a distinct criterion (this shows that you are genuinely interested in taking that task), or you may have to complete a skills test and pass with a set minimum score before they anoint you that qualification. Other requesters, Audiokite for example, you only have to answer the question of whether or not you listen to a particular type of music on a regular basis. Affirmative answers earn you that qualification. Some qualifications require you to take a test, either a short answer or multiple choice. Earning qualification status may require a specific percentage or higher for these exams. Your score for each qualification is located on this page as well.

Qualifications Screen
Qualifications Screen | Source

Completing Jobs to Earn Qualifications

At any given time there may be over 300,000 individual tasks to choose from, but not all are ones for which you are qualified. Some qualifications require that you have completed some hits (100, 500, 1000, or even a mastery at 5000) to for consideration as passed and awarded. Unless you have experience in crowdsourcing before, you most likely are going to end up with the penny tasks at the very beginning. These jobs earn you one penny for your efforts. However, consider this. These requesters are getting for what they are paying. These jobs don’t take much work to complete. Be warned though, some requesters may set up assignments, such as flagging adult content, and you have to click and choose whether a picture is Not Adult, Adult, or Not Loaded. They may give you 50 of these pictures to look at which laboriously cuts into your productivity and time. You will have to examine the pay with the number of items included in each micro-task as well. One five cent job might have 4 to 6 things to complete that task, while other requesters may have 30.

Time Limits for Tasks

Also, all micro-tasks have an assigned time limit. Their "stopwatch" is located in the upper-right-hand corner of the job page after you accept the task. From what I have seen limits can set anywhere between one minute and 24 hours to complete. Others may have longer times, but I kept to the quick jobs that had much shorter limits. If you fail to complete a task within the shot clock timer, the work is ruled as abandoned and they record it in your account. These numbers reflect a percent and too many task abandonments will prevent you from participating in HITS that require a minimum percentage. I have been striving or months to get back my 1% to get back up to 99% after some of the initial follies in getting to learn the system.

Screenshot of MTurk Stopwatch
Screenshot of MTurk Stopwatch | Source

How To Fail at Tasks and Get Banned From Requesters

When you decide to view HITs under a specific job, a window within the webpage will load and give specific instruction on how to complete the task. Make sure you read the instructions carefully. Non-compliance with the directions repeatedly can and will get you banned from participating in that company’s tasks ever again.

Turking Is Hard Work!

Understand that this IS work! The work may be merely typing in front of your laptop, but it is work nonetheless. Quality control is a part of the process, and you will only get paid for substantial and honest completion of each task. I say the word "honest" because some people may be dishonest and try to buck the system, especially when it comes to surveys. Also be prepared to take frequent breaks during these tasks. The same rules apply for sitting at your desk or laptop for long periods of time. Sitting in a hunched position completing these jobs, you can experience fatigue, severe eye strain, and neck and back aches from being too long in the same position. I have felt this first hand. There is also the risk of developing carpal tunnel in your hands. Therefore, take precautionary measures such as a wrist rest for your keyboard and frequent breaks to stretch your muscles out and rest your eyes.

Woman Using Macbook Pro
Woman Using Macbook Pro | Source

The Incredible Edible Survey

Some of the tasks that you can complete are surveys for money. Most surveys contain anti-spammer questions to make sure that you are not merely clicking on the same bubble all the way down. This system ensures that you are reading every query and honestly answering them. Turkers who fail to answer honestly will not receive credit for their hit and would possibly ban you from being able to complete other jobs for that requester ever again.

Turking Can Be Very Enjoyable

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a brilliant way to get people to complete small-bit tasks that are pieces of the whole. I found quite a few jobs that took little time to finish and I enjoyed quite a few of them. Some of the simple tasks to complete include: transcribe email from audio, voice-over work for movie terms, transcribing an MP3, writing a 150-word keyword article, give a 61 character description of a piece of adult content and various surveys. Mind you, there are a limited number of HITs available for each job, so if you find one you enjoy, keep completing HITs. Others will be doing the same HITs as you and eventually that particular project will dry up not having any more available tasks. There is no rhyme or reason to when a job that you especially like to do will appear again, so it helps to check the search box regularly to see if they have loaded anymore in for you yet. Sometimes you will only see 50 or HITs available, and sometimes you will see over 20,000 for a particular job. It all depends on your timing. In my experience, most requesters load their tasks at the beginning of the week around Monday or Tuesday and some load more intermittently through the week. Some of the most enjoyable jobs that I have accomplished listening to up an up and coming independent and signed music artists that no one has ever heard before. To be honest, some of these artists are a breath of fresh air in today's industry. I have a couple of favorites who I was inclined to follow on social media and send them messages on Twitter supporting the wonderful songs they have created. I am in fact, very much looking forward to seeing how they evolve their sound as artists, an opportunity I would never have had the fortune of having were it not for Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Slow Growing Dollars
Slow Growing Dollars | Source

A Small Measure of Success

Earlier I had mentioned that I had earned $200 so far. While this is true, it took me over 2000 HITs completed to get this far. I hope this puts things in perspective. Until I reach 5000 HITs, specific tasks will not be available to me, and until I can get into higher paying assignments, there is no way I will be able to ascend the ranks and make Amazon Mechanical Turk work for me. However, $200 is still $200. I still see the potential from here, and I will continue to play around with it until I meet my goal of $500 a month. However, I don't think I will ever reach that goal with the level of master I have attained so far. As I promised at the beginning of this article, below are some of the requesters with whom I did most of my work and got the most enjoyment. I wish you the best in all of your endeavors. Good Luck!

© 2012 Matt Leo

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    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You have provided really useful information here about Mturk. I will surely check that one out.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      6 years ago from Cardiff

      I have just signed up after reading another hub on the subject, think it may be interesting for filling in some time in the evenings. So can you do the same hit many times then?

    • profile image

      vinothini 

      6 years ago

      I am using mechanical turk from one year.I got more money from that.Nowadays no easy hit in mechanical turk .

    • MatthewLeo1701 profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt Leo 

      6 years ago from Richlands

      Exactly. I, too, was literally making pennies on the hour, but I must admit, some of the jobs were interesting, and did help pass the time.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      My experience with Amazon Mturk was that the average hourly wage is less than minimum wage, but it can be a way to generate money when you need to fill in "time gaps", that hour after kids go to bed, Saturday morning before planned events, etc. The highest paying jobs (that are not scams) are article writing and niche surveys.

    • MatthewLeo1701 profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt Leo 

      6 years ago from Richlands

      Thank you Kathy! Check out my other hubs when you have time. I have been writing on a variety of subjects. Please look up my profile and please follow, and you will get updates on when new articles come up. I do about 3 to 4 a week.

    • profile image

      Kathy McKee 

      6 years ago

      Pretty good Matt!! Very interestingly written too!!

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